The thing about your life flashing before your eyes is the real deal, except it doesn’t flash and it doesn’t wait until the last minute so’s to have to rush around and maybe forget something. But if you get into your 70s and have any memory left, I can promise you you’ll find yourself re-living all the tiny events of your life you thought nothing about at the time. Then, a few nights or months or maybe years later, doing it again, and remembering you’ve done it, remembered it before this time.
For instance, I was thinking the other night about an incident on the playground when I was in the fourth grade in grammar school. It was an incident I’ve written about here involving a kid named Winkie Hodges, and another named Keith Kelt. [They still call him Winkie – posted July 29, 2014]
But this time I was remembering it all in a different context. I was thinking about several of us who were around at that time, but who lived to a ripe old age. One died a few months ago – Eddie Hiner – and I was thinking about how surprised we would have been back then if someone had told us, “Hey kid…..let me flash your life before your eyes [the way it gets flashed backward nowadays but faster] and give you a look at what you think as an old man was valuable about your life. What was worth doing. What was worth remembering.
I don’t think it would have changed much about our lives, but we’d probably have shuddered some and figured it was a nightmare. Everything I thought I wanted out of life back then, everything I thought made life worth living, got replaced and eroded so many times I should have realized a lot sooner how little difference any of it actually made.
The area between this old 1890s house I live in and the next one over is all grass. We’ve been told they’re going to let us put in a ‘community garden’. Got my fingers itching to dig them around in some cow manure and soil. Went out and bought a Roma and a Big Boy each tomatoes to put in the solarium porch… [one’s going to blossom tonight or tomorrow – but stumbling blocks keep showing up for starting to dig that community garden].
But my point is, breaking up a little dirt, putting some seeds down, it’s probably as important ans anything I’ve ever done this lifetime, and that’s just fine. In fact, I’d count it as important as anything anyone I knew this lifetime ever did, too [at least anything they did that I knew about].
So I’m wondering how everything came to be so complicated back then. How Winkie, and Eddie Hiner, and Keith, and all those other kids ever came to believe there was something we could do that didn’t involve turning over some dirt, squeezing in some cow manure, and putting some seeds in the ground, that was going to produce something of lasting value.
In those days it was a given that old people were where you’d find wisdom. By hindsight I tend to think wisdom escaped them, too.
The old men in that photo at the top of this post were out there at that time, doing what they’re doing in the photo. I’m thinking they probably knew that thing about putting seeds in the ground and cowshit..
But they weren’t telling.